nnieohhhhyes

There’s a time and place for everything

and I believe it’s called ‘fan-fiction’.

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The Force Is Strong With This One
nnieohhhhyes
novel_concept26
Title: The Force Is Strong With This One
Pairing: Beca Mitchell/Benji Applebaum friendship
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Nothing owned, no profit gained.
Spoilers: For Pitch Perfect.
Summary: Beca is pretty much the Stockholm victim of stupid Star Wars.
A/N: Kay-prompted.

Beca doesn’t like movies. She doesn’t hate movies—the way Jesse teasingly remarks every chance she gets, now that he knows how she feels about the film world—she just doesn’t get them. They’re dull. They’re repetitive. Actors bleed together mindlessly until she can’t tell the difference between Tyler Durden and Jeffrey Goines, or Angelina Jolie being six kinds of crazy. It isn’t that any of these things are bad; it’s just that she doesn’t care. Can’t bring herself to. Doesn’t want to. There’s plenty enough on her plate already, without giving her heart to the land of cinema.

But there is one tiny exception to this rule. Just one. And it isn’t even her fault.

Beca is pretty much the Stockholm victim of stupid Star Wars.

***

Her dad was the one who pushed her toward it. Her dad, who absolutely adores science fiction for some reason (Beca suspects Asimov is to blame, or maybe one of those infinitely more obscure, less quality authors he was always devouring as a kid), and who cites Star Wars as the pinnacle of filmmaking. Beca can remember the first time she heard snippets of A New Hope, back when she was still small enough to acceptably don footie pajamas, when the kitchen counter felt like a skyscraper towering above her head. She can remember bits and pieces, wound together in a child’s memory—things like sweeping score, and the swish-hum of a lightsaber crackling, and “I can’t shake him!”—and this….feeling just winds its way into her stomach. She can’t help it. It’s as natural as breathing, this sense that there was just something about this movie that made her father’s heart race with delight. And anything that made her dad feel that way was…

She remembers standing just around the corner of her bedroom, forehead pressed to the wall as she closed her eyes and tried to catch every last snippet of sound. She was too young then for the violence (violence, she snorts now, now that Jesse has made her sit through The Boondock Saints and Pulp Fiction and Sweeney Todd), and wouldn’t have been able to make heads or tails of the plot anyway, but she still wanted to be a part of it. It was her dad’s Special Thing, and anything that fit under that categorical heading was automatically appealing.

She was eight the first time he let her watch it, and it became a ritual with no set calendar; whenever the mood struck, there were Luke, and Han, and Leia, ready to entertain them. She still remembers the gleam in her father’s eye—that slightly maniacal expression he’s always gotten just before embarking on one of his raving English tirades—as he outlined Joseph Campbell’s hero journey thing, which never really worked for her, but it was endearing to watch him try. She remembers him explaining little facets to the movie that she never would have cared about without him—the Buddhist elements of the Jedi, and his sprawling theories about how the Empire came to be, and everything in between. She remembers the look on his face when she asked why Luke and Leia couldn’t get married and make a little Luke-Leia, and remembers the uncomfortable twist in the pit of her stomach when she figured out, Oh. She remembers it all.

Even now. Even when her relationship with her father has degraded to the point of nothing, to the point where a simple meal together is damn-near the most traumatizing part of her week (if you rule out Aubrey and her mental ideas about how an a capella group should behave). Even now, with Sheila resting on the edge of her periphery, and her mother cutting all the heads off of her dad’s old photos, and her father looking at her in that way that she hates so much—she remembers.

It’s too old a love to shake.

***

When Benji finds out about the Star Wars thing, it’s kind of a total accident. She just happened to come over one day when Jesse was in class—not like she can remember his schedule, on top of her own mess of a week—and just happened to pick up a model X-Wing and make some off-hand comment about its wing structure being ten times more awesome than a stupid TIE Fighter. (Because it is. Because anyone who says they don’t want an X-Wing is totally lying.) It just burst out of her mouth without thought, and when she looked guiltily up, she found him staring at her.

Beaming.

Slack-jawed.

Benji, it turns out, can be even creepier than Chloe when he wants to be.

Somehow, he managed to wrestle her into a viewing of A New Hope, and even though it’s not her favorite—sue her, she likes Jedi best, even though the Ewoks are totally sketch, because at least Luke isn’t whining so much anymore by the time he starts rocking the mechanical hand—she finds herself enjoying it. There was a period where she honestly believed she only liked the stupid movies because of her dad, because watching it with him was such a bright spotlight in her childhood, but sitting on the edge of Benji’s bed, gamely quoting the dialogue along with him, she has to wonder. Maybe it isn’t about her dad anymore. Maybe it’s about the films themselves, with the pulsing theme music, and the lighting, and the characters. Maybe.

(And maybe her dad’s voice is still in her head each time she pops a DVD in, no matter what, and maybe that still has something to do with it, too. As much as she hates to admit it.)

She sits through the movie, even though Jesse comes home before the motley little crew makes it off the Death Star, and the urge to book it out of the room before he senses that she actually appreciates a movie and has an aneurysm over it becomes overwhelming. She makes it through to the end credits, to Leia draping medals over each of the heroes’ heads, and just like when she was a kid, the thought occurs to her like clockwork: Leia deserved a friggin’ medal for putting up with those idiots all movie long.

When Benji sits up, sighs happily, and says, “I would have given Leia an even bigger medal for being so awesome,” Beca realizes this might actually have to become a thing.

Jesse needs to just shut up right now.

***

It becomes a thing—their thing—though sometimes other people get in on the action. Chloe comes over once in a while, but she always seems more distracted by braiding Beca’s hair than by the movie itself. Jesse, too, joins the festivities, but he spends at least as much time staring at Beca as at the epic battles in that galaxy far, far away, and it’s sort of annoying. Only Benji reacts appropriately, eyes glued to the screen, lips forming the lines before the actors can recite them. She, amazingly, loves that about him.

She does refuse to wear a cape for their movie nights, but the great thing about Benji is, he doesn’t bat an eye. He just hands the popcorn over and rewinds again to the bit where Vader announces that Luke, he totally is your father, dude, making the same stunned face he always does. Like he doesn’t know it by heart. Like it still punches something deep inside of him, the way it did to Beca when she was nine years old and her father decided it was time to embark on the darkest episode of the trilogy.

It’s weird, but watching Benji respond that way, with his eyes like saucers and his mouth gasping, fists clenched against his knees, kind of makes Beca feel…young. In a good way. In an honest, innocent way, the way you can only feel once. That reveal is a one-time firework, brilliant and bold and awe-inspiring—or so Beca’s always thought. Benji is proving that theory wrong, one watch-through at a time. It makes her heart swell in some bizarre, clutching way, to see the appreciation he still has for such a well-known moment.

That’s Benji for you: appreciative. Of Jesse being his roommate, and of the talent in every individual a capella group on campus, and of the ins and outs of the magic industry. Benji is appreciative of the way the seasons change, and the binding together of chords into a song, and the way Beca laughs whenever he deepens his voice to do his very best Jabba. Benji is just so happy in this world, with everything life hands him, that Beca finds herself starting to doubt her own philosophy of living. She does all right for herself, but Benji just seems so euphoric each morning, simply for the act of waking up, and that amazes her.

She used to think Jesse’s roommate was some weird dude with way too many doves, but actually? Benji’s pretty okay.

***

“I mean, Vader means father,” she laughs. “Like, why were we ever so surprised?”

“Did you speak Dutch as a kid?” Benji asks shrewdly. She snorts.

“German.”

“You spoke German?” He widens his eyes, clacking his blue lightsaber against her red one. She rolls her eyes.

No. It means father in German.”

“Rookie mistake,” he allows, jumping up on the bed to avoid her next slash. “Too slow!”

“Dude, I already took off one of your legs,” she points out, casually ignoring the fact that she’s playing this game with one “lost” arm behind her back. She probably should be hopping on one foot, too, the way he is, but Benji is a sweetheart even in the midst of faux-saber duels. Most dudes would never have let her keep a leg.

Then again, this is Benji, who really isn’t anything like most anyone.

“Hey, there’s something I’ve been wondering,” Benji says, in a voice that doesn’t really sound like his Spouting Lucasfilm Facts voice. Beca tilts her head to the side, narrowly avoiding the loss of her other arm.

“Shoot.”

“You were a Bella,” he says slowly, like he’s going deliberately out of his way not to piss her off. “And you liked it, right?”

Beca shrugs. She’s been trying not to think about the whole post-semi-finals flop, about how she stepped up her game in the middle of a performance and just about lost all of the friends she’s managed to make at Barden. Chloe still sends her texts, but she doesn’t know how to reply to any of them, and with even Jesse avoiding the crap out of her—quite a feat, given how often she hangs out in his room lately—it’s just been a miserable couple of weeks. She’s been trying to forget all of it, which explains why she’s allowed their Star Wars-fests to escalate into dangerously-lame prequel territory. At least it gives her something to dwell on other than her fantastically impressive ability to alienate everyone.

“But you left,” Benji is pressing on, wrinkling his nose in obvious confusion. Beca takes the opportunity to slice out at his remaining leg, and he bounces dutifully onto his ass.

“What’s the question?” she asks, leaning her ‘saber against the floor and pushing the hair from her eyes. He bites his lip.

“Why’d you leave?”

She remembers him chasing her that night, calling her name like a damaged droid, and remembers just as vividly the urge to run that carried her out of the building and into the chill of the night. She remembers how lonely she felt in that moment, without Chloe’s arm around her waist, or Amy’s laughter chiming in her ears, or Aubrey’s scathing smile on her. She remembers the shattered look on Jesse’s face when she shouted him down. She remembers the loss of her friends.

It hurts more than she thought it would.

“They didn’t need me,” she says, lying through her teeth. He can read it all over her face, she knows. She hates that. It’s the worst part about letting someone care about you, this habit of getting dissected so easily by another person.

“They do,” he replies, his voice soft and shy. “And, I don’t know…I guess I just don’t get it. You had something so great. How could you walk away?”

There’s no accusation in the question, nor in the open, earnest look on his face. She realizes for the first time that Benji would have killed to be in her position. Benji, Jesse told her once in a hushed, unhappy tone, had tried so hard to carve out a place for himself in the Trebles. It was Benji’s dream to be where Beca accidentally stumbled, and for her to just abandon that place while he remains here, an unofficial mascot for a team that doesn’t appreciate him, is…

Callous at best.

“I’m sorry,” she says, without a proper segway into the apology. He frowns, confused.

“For what? I just mean, if it’s something you really love, maybe you shouldn’t give up on it so easily. Like. Like how Han came back for that first Death Star battle. He didn’t want to, but he cared too much to stay away. You know?”

She does, and that sort of freaks her out. When Star Wars analogies hit that close to home, it’s time to tone it down just a smidge.

(Then again, she’s holding a late-night lightsaber battle in this kid’s dorm room. Maybe they already passed that exit a few miles back.)

“I thought you wanted to be Han,” she points out, just to distance herself a little from it all. He grins.

“That’s only because I’m a stud.” He looks her up and down, sobering. “And because Han doesn’t have the Force. He sees things, and he can fight, and talk, and wear all the vests in the world, but he’s no Jedi. And he gets that. You, though. The Force is strong with you.”

It’s the weirdest speech anyone has ever made at her. She can only stare at him; he shrugs, rumpling his messy hair.

“I’m trying to say…you make friends wherever you go. You get people to like you, to want you around. You’re awesome, Beca, whether you get that or not. You make people feel safe, and cool, and strong. Like Jesse. Like the Bellas.”

He shrugs again, sheepish. “Like me.”

She flushes a little, head shaking. “I don’t know—“

“Just try,” he pleads. “They’ll take you back, Bec, I know they will. You’ll convince them. You could convince anyone. That’s what a hero does.”

It’s crazy. She’s nobody’s hero. Anyway, how true any of that is, Beca can’t figure, and how it makes her a Jedi Knight, even less so. But he’s looking at her with that lopsided little grin, and she knows that he believes it—this crazy kid with such an appreciation for life, and magic, and the wonders of the world—so maybe that’s good enough.

She doesn’t know what to do about the Bellas thing. Aubrey hates her now more than ever, and even Chloe has got to give up sometime—though she seems more stubborn than Beca would have given her credit for, so who knows when that will happen. It’d be crazy to try to push her way back into the fold now.

But Benji believes in her. She can see that clearly, scrawled into the lines of his face, the smile crinkling the corners of his eyes and lifting his cheeks. He believes in her—and her Force, apparently—the way he believes in the Trebles. The way he believes things might finally go his way, if he just hangs around long enough, takes enough of their shit.

Beca doesn’t buy into that fairy tale crap, but Benji does. Benji’s daily mantra has an awful lot to do with the little guy coming out on top in the end, against all odds to the contrary. Benji believes in the power of true love’s kiss at the end of a long carbonite sleep, and in sons reuniting with their fathers, and in ragtag rebels blowing a corrupt government to kibbles ‘n bits. Benji believes.

Beca is starting to think she could learn an awful lot from Benji.

Also, she should really introduce him to her dad sometime.

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I loved this!! Benji was my favourite and I wished they'd have spent some time on a Benji/beca friendship. Perfect fic from you! You hit the nail on the head :)

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